D.C. City Lawmakers Approve Legislation to Regulate Recreational Marijuana Sales

In November, D.C. voters passed Initiative 71 with nearly 70 percent approval ratings, and legalized the adult possession of up to two ounces of cannabis. Citizens are are allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants in their own home. However, the voter-approved Initiative 71 does not include a system for regulating and taxing recreational marijuana sales.

To address this fact, D.C. lawmakers approved pieces of legislation that would legally regulate and license the production, processing, distribution and sale of cannabis in the District of Columbia. The vote took place following a joint hearing on Tuesday, November 25 by the D.C. Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and the Committee on Finance and Revenue.

Councilmembers voted to approve various sections of a 2013 bill, the “Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2013,” which was introduced by Councilmember David Grosso, an Independent. Ten sections of the bill remain unexamined, however, and lawmakers did not finish the process before the Council adjourned this month. Advocates suspect that Councilmembers will resume the push for a regulated marijuana market come January with a similar tax and regulatory bill.

“Today’s vote in support of regulating marijuana like alcohol in the nation’s capital is a validation of the overwhelming support among District residents for an end to the racial disparities and harm caused by  marijuana prohibition,” said Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “D.C. lawmakers have a clear mandate from the community they serve to pass a bill that regulates marijuana and restores those communities that have been harmed the most by decades of marijuana prohibition.”

“D.C. lawmakers must act quickly to end decades of failed marijuana prohibition laws that have criminalized tens of thousands and devastated communities of color,” said Smith.

Meanwhile, supporters of Initiative 71 are concerned that the voter-approved bill could still face opposition from the new GOP-led Congress, which reserves the right to tamper with local laws. However, experts have recently argued that such a move would prove too politically risky for Republicans, and many are predicting that the passing of Initiative 71 will not be drawn into question.

Sources:

http://www.thedailychronic.net/2014/39017/washington-d-c-takes-major-step-toward-taxing-and-regulating-marijuana/

http://www.govexec.com/state-local/2014/12/will-congress-let-dc-legalize-pot/100157/

Photo Credit: fortherock

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